Monday, June 15, 2009

Seventeen - Jezebel

Posted at the top of this list (for now) is a video that is a lot like the xmas in mexico video.

Sound is from the digital radio played on the hotel TV and recorded on to my camera.

I took that sound as a framework and then loaded the project with the folder of pictures and movies that I have been publishing or posting so far... with some editing after the fact though.

Auto Movie. Catch it - it's fun!

That's how the traffic conference video was made. Quickly; and I lost the WMNSSVBVS file, or whatever the extension is...

I hope you enjoy the music.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sixteen - writing for DOT-Way

Here is the article I wrote for the City of San Jose DOT Newsletter...

It is nice to have an editor - whew!

Transportation in Istanbul (not Constantinople)
William Harmon - Geographic Systems Specialist

Many people have asked me why I traveled to Istanbul on a recent vacation.

In short, I have a goal to travel to a different and unique place - someplace I’ve never been - every year for the rest of my life. Istanbul and the Republic of Turkey was a place on my list.

Istanbul is a lively city that continues to build upon itself and its several thousand year history straddling the Bosporus Straights - one-half in Europe and the other half in Asia. Islam is practiced there, but during the last century it has been tempered somewhat to encourage modernization and enable Turkey to become more contemporary. They have been negotiating, unsuccessfully, to become part of the European Union for decades. None-the-less, Islam is still a major part of their culture, with the call-to-prayer broadcast over loud-speakers throughout the city five times a day.

I found out by visiting there that while some customs may be quaint; hospitality abounds and Istanbul has a very modern infrastructure - particularly their public transportation system.

While sitting in airport traffic during the first part of my visit, I looked up and saw a billboard for the 2009 Intertraffic Conference:

I later found out that it was not only happening close to where I was staying and at the same time, but that it was free! So I decided to go.
The first presentation, I somehow managed to understand, was a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) projects – this despite not being able to understand the Turkish language at all. Let’s hear it for effective Power Point slides!

I then retrieved a headset for Turkish to English translation and watched a presentation by a traffic engineer from the Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel ( The IETT and its partner agencies are equivalent to our local VTA.

Despite issues with language translation, I could appreciate the challenges of a traffic engineer for a city of 15 million people (and a population density three to four times greater than the City of San Jose).[1] In one example, he described the ratio of signal devices operated per population, and then compared these figures to other metropolitan areas of the world. The ratio is something like 1: 3,000 for Istanbul (1 signal for every 3,000 persons); compared to 1: 1,000 for large cities in the U.S., like Los Angeles. San Jose, by comparison, has roughly 900 traffic signals for a population of about 900,000.

Next, he went on to admit another challenge: Regardless of how many signals and other safety devices there are in the city, they are largely violated or ignored by the motorists. (What did I find particularly un-nerving during my visit? Here, the motorists have countdown signals!)
Expansion and improvement of the public transportation system, according to the speaker, was the best solution. He explained that the construction of public transportation in the city has grown at a rate of about 75% since the year 2000. In fact, right in front of the Istanbul Expo Center, where the conference took place, they were excavating bedrock to build an additional line to their Metro system.

To augment growth of the public transportation system the speaker also cited the need for more Otoparks – an equivalent to our Park and Ride lots, but more like multi-story parking garages placed at key transit hubs.
After the speaker session, I went on the conference floor and checked out different vendor booths and activities. I noticed immediately, as with most of the transportation conferences I have attended throughout my career, GIS as a tool to better manage traffic was absent; except in sophisticated ITS software - which only comprised about one-quarter of the floor displays.
The majority of the vendors, it appeared, were focused on advanced signage, with state-of-the-art composition, reflective materials, and solar power and LED for street and signal lighting. Vendors were also displaying sophisticated road materials and markings application devices. Safety seemed to be a huge concern. I think they are already pretty green.
Outside, there were displays of hulking road construction, paving and striping trucks. Mercedes Benz also displayed several municipal buses that are apparently a standard brand in many European cities. Let me say that I did not ask any of the prices of these vehicles.
In my travels, I did have some thoughts on transportation at large in the city too. I really appreciate how they were able to implement and then integrate such large scale transportation projects and systems. According to the IETT website there are 16 different types of public transportation available in the city. I lost count at the six different modes I used on my trip - from ferry boat, to subway, to the famous dolmuş (shared city buses that stop anywhere along a fixed route and are usually stuffed with people – and yes, analogous to the Greek food with the same name). Not to mention, I did a lot of walking.

My other thoughts were about how amazing it is that they have the will as a society to be able to get things done. Like the previously described rail and subway expansions, or better yet, a tunnel that crosses under the Straights of Bosporus.
This conference was a memorable addition to a wonderful trip to another part of the world. Certainly things are different there than they are here in the Bay Area, but it is interesting to find the similarities. Next year the Intertraffic conference takes place in Amsterdam, where they have multi-story parking for bicycles - and other interesting things to check out.
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and wanted to describe this facet of it to you. If you are interested in hearing more about this travel, please feel free to contact me.
[1] Comparison figures are derived from While published figures show Istanbul at a population of nine to ten million; estimates among conference speakers and attendees, local media, and residents cite a population closer to 15,000,000.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Winning the title of the cutest little boy in the country (of Turkey that is).

After lunch he came over, tapped me on the shoulder, and then gave me a piece of chewing gum.

He beat out the little boy with no front teeth that tried to sell me a Turkish newspaper. Doesn't he know that I don't read that language?

I gave him a Lira anyway...

Luckily this wasn't Chiapas.

The restaurant/cafe with this little boy (in the video) appeared to be run by he, his father and his grandfather. He followed his father around, chirping like a little bird. It broke my heart.

Fourteen - More "My Maps" Travel Maps

View Istanbul Travel 4 in a larger map - Travel direction goes east to west.

I can't believe I tried to walk from the metro station to the hotel. I had no idea where I was going. General and pretty much vague - sound familiar? Later, find I was completely heading in the wrong direction!

As a geographer, lack of familiarity is the challenge to seek out. When there are maps, and you are somewhere, you're really not that lost. I had no maps though. It can be frustrating especially when you are on a schedule or something. Great way to make some people angry...
(funny too, because I can't hang with change so well...)

If there was any time I was frustrated with any of the travel it was today. I just couldn't walk any more. It was pretty hot too. 80's to 90's. Made me think of surfing in Costa Rica. After so many days you don't have any more energy to do what you've come to do.

Also, check the terrain on the western end of the day's travel. More hills. More fucking hills.

It's frustrating no doubt to not be able to do what you wanted to do, or back off and mellow out, so I hailed a Cab and got it over with.

Shades of the bike trips I guess... You have to stop at some point. Or like the cat that I heard on NPR at sometime hazily last evening (his book: INTO THICK AIR: BIKING TO THE BELLYBUTTON OF SIX CONTINENTS).

He talked about how you can have the best and the worst conditions alternating constantly.

When it's good, it's really good; however, when it sucks, it can really suck. I was excited because this wasn't as bad. If it was 10 or 15 years ago, I might've cried a little bit.

I know now it was precisely because, then (when I was a green-horn), I wasn't sitting on a fat wallet with magical SJSU credit card and a few crispy hundred dollar bills and some Turkish Liras: Enough to give the cab driver a nice tip when I got back to the hotel.

And, when I got back to the room, I put the lounge chair right by the sealed-up floor-to-ceiling window and watched the freeway interchange; and watched kids fly kites, throw rocks and break shit in the "brownfield" for about two hours.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Pretty fired up still - been home for almost a day.
Dave Lipnicke was right. It's a good high for sure.

Flight was brutal. Too tall, but could be much worse.

Got some good sleep in today - about four hours and then wake up going WTF? I love that. It reminds me, however, of the Oaxaca - Las Vegas Turn Around shit that I tried - see 2006 - or not.

Told Mom I got back. She worry, but her son still has his tongue and did not end up in a turkish prison - note to Father Jon and Adam Hughes. Although his judgement is questionable and will be (and should be) scored low on his next performance appraisal.

Actually, to go to Dedemon Sile (I hope it's no paranoia) I think they ran my passport through some kind of system. When I walked in, all sweaty with the back pack, they knew exactly who I was.

Some of the hotels I stayed at had metal detectors and would inspect the bottom of the vehicle with a mirror.

I guess I'm cool. Just a dumbass instructor at a state university in California.



Would I go back there? Yes! But, there are other places to go to...


Check the traffic conference remix #1

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Gotta bail for now But here are pictures from the blue mos que This is for Obama and his enormous task today Let us all hope that reason prevails

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Eleven - Foot Patrol ın Şıle - Actual

So here`s what I actually ended up doing:

View Istanbul Travel 3 - Actual in a larger map

It was pretty much a fıgure eight of sorts.

I started out to check the beach and ended up heading further west - in the complete opposite direction. Yes, the potentıal for surf ıs high here. If I had a board I would have given it a shot today - no doubt. A long board would've been fun.

You need the right kınd of thing to kick off the waves though (there ıs no ground swell I don`t think), but as I saıd earlier, the beach ıs set up well. If the wınd swell was two feet higher today, ıt would have been really good. But that same wind - too localized, would have tore ıt all up? I don´t know. They say only fools predict the weather - the rest is instinct and timing.

Whoa! Surf Journal is at home now; I though this was Istanbul Journal?

Well, I did go for a swim ın the Black Sea (just lıke Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes ın 1999). It was chilly, but very refreshing.

OK, so the walk was about 8 - 9 miles, add an extra mile for my walking ın circles while waiting for the bank to open (they close for lunch, god bless 'em). It was also pretty hilly. Swıtch to Terraın to see that. I got schooled by the local who I talked with briefly. Smart/local people use the benches that are placed every so many metres to rest. It reminded me of the Oakland Hills (and I wish I had Buddy to pull me up them!)

The town is awesome. If I said Buyukada was lıke Catalina, then thıs was lıke Balboa or Capitola. Swanky, to do people expecting German tourists (I counted five times that someone asked me 'Sprechen sie Deutsch?')

Following here are some basic pictures of the town (the famous lighthouse, for example) - followed by a picture of the beautiful women here:


So, in answer to Thomas' questıon of "whether or not the call to prayer (Adhan) is live or recorded?"

Well Thomas, they phone it in! At least the one I heard today sounded like it was. It was still good, one of the best ones that I heard so far - I sat and tripped on it and recorded it. Unfortunately, I didn't record the end when you could hear the phone (tone buttons) get pushed. Four in a row: beep, beep, beep, beep; then ıt was done! Ha ha ha...

Also, I've found hours of self amusement with the "put it in H!" joke.
Anytime I see an Opel, a Scoda, a car or truck I don't know of; when I almost get run over or see a near wreck, I say ıt. It hasn't gotten old - yet.

Well, today was the high period of and, now sadly, end of the epic walkıng for the trip. The rest of travel is now pretty much to get home on Friday morning. Kind of depressing so I tried to leave all the rubber on the road today. I'll be sore, but tomorrow I'll do maybe two miles and call it a day.

It'll do me just right.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ten - Foot Patrol in Şile

Today´s travels:

View Istanbul Travel 3 in a larger map

I am goıng to try to walk to the town from my Hotel. The Hotel ıt turns out ıs more of a resort and there are a bunch of people that work for Siemans who are doing management training. The Hotel ıs rather far from the actual town that ıt is named after.

Greg Brost tells me there ıs surf ın the Black Sea - as I mentıoned...
From my room I see waves, but ıt`s lookıng lıke Manresa in August 2006.

I do see killer potential, however - look at the river mouth and the sand bar (on the map). Plus, note that poınt that sticks out. That is my goal today. To make ıt to the famous Şile Lighthouse that warns sailors of that point.


Nine - Pictures from Büyükada Island

OK, I tried to post pictures here a few days ago and ended up crashıng the app. Let´s try agaın...

Büyükada Island doesn't appear to have any mosques. I saw two churches (with crosses).

It worked! but now I must go to bed. Blogging ıs such a harsh mistress Papa G - why??? Now I go back and write ın my paper journal.

Let me say my blessings.

I am stoked! I don´t want to start shit but I think ıs my time once again.

Final thoughts are wıth Air France...

Eight - Covering ground

Here is the travels I made today.

Key: Boat = Blue; Foot (and local transit) = Green; Bus = Purple

View Istanbul Travel 2 in a larger map

Final destination:

I got a deal for the empty Black Sea Resort!
I am - as I said earlıer goıng swank on the lodging, but low end on the transpo. The ride to the Dedeman resort was only 7TL (which is like 4 bucks US)!

So many people were cool to me today. From the guy that made my Amerıcano (and explained Beşıktaş futbol to me), to the driver of the bus that got me here. From the Cop that helped me fınd the rıght bus (139A in case you´re keepıng score), to the guy that sewed my jacket up for free (some thıng defy language). Thıs place ıs fucking awesome.

I am stoked today as I walked up the the Dedeman Şıle wıth my pack on from the (only) Seven Turkısh Lira bus rıde that went 60 kilometers!

Who knew ıt was so forested out here?


Seven - Spent the nıght on thıs Island:

View Büyükada in a larger map

good stuff and good for sleepıng

I wıll throw up some pıctures of ıt at next post. Very charmıng place and walked up and down some pretty steep hılls. No cars - only bıkes and horses. The Catalına Island of Istanbul?

Apparently Trotsky stayed (hıd?) here for four years? Check it out

Today wıll be one of my bıggest travel days - except for the aır travel of course. I take the ferry back to The Asıan sıde of the Bosphorus and then catch a bus to Şıle on the Black Sea. Some one told me that there ıs surf there; and I have read that the Black Sea ıs turbulent (I saw a warnıng about dangerous surf and sneaker waves).

Seems lıke - and as ıt ıs on thıs Island - everyone ıs gearıng up for summer (the whole two months of ıt!)

Peace tıl the ´next tıme. (Hopefully I wıll fıgure out how to post pıcs dırectly here wıthout an applıcatıon crash - MyMaps crashed just as I embedded ıt ınto thıs page.

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